Inside Madshus Racing Service

Stian Grønås (center) enjoys working with the athletes. Thomas Alsgaard (behind) and Ole Einar Bjørndalen (right) say the service team support is invaluable. Photo:

The Madshus Racing Service crew supports all the Madshus contract racers. But at the end of the day, the efforts of the racing crew benefit citizen racers and recreational skiers as well as the elite.

While the national teams take care of the race day waxing and tuning for all their racers, Stian Grønås and his men support the skiers year round. During competitions, they assist the racers if they have questions about how to optimize their equipment, get them a specialty pair of skis for a specific kind of snow, fix pole grips and bring them new boots if they need some. But the foundation is laid a long time before the race season.

Grønås, who used to be a wax tech with the Norwegian national team, starts picking skis for the racers pretty much as soon as the previous season is over. Getting the new skis to the racers early is super important in order to help them dial in and fine-tune all the pairs, and allows the skiers enough time to get used to how the skis behave in different terrain and snow conditions well ahead of the next race season.

Win-win situation
“The racers we serve help us test new skis, and give us valuable feedback on the properties of the skis, such as how easy it is to get kick, and how they ski in different kinds of terrain,” Grønås says, explaining that ski testing is so much more than just glide.

Most testers are well beyond the classic glide test, where they stand still while gliding a pair of skis down the hill. Sometimes the fastest gliding ski might not be the best pick.

“Quite often the skiers pick the ski with the second or even third best downhill glide. There are so many factor and properties to consider, and what ski they land on heavily depends on the course profile. If you are going to double-pole a lot or race Vasaloppet, kick might not be your biggest concern, but rather that they are great for double-poling,” Grønås explains.

The feedback from the skiers both during testing and racing is invaluable information for Madshus engineers, who are working on developing the next World Cup ski. And down the line, all the testing and tuning benefit the consumers. The feedback from the elite racers and the test team is considered in everything from flex curves and choice of materials in the construction, in order to develop skis that ski maneuver easier and glide faster while providing optimal kick in a wide range of terrain and conditions.

Optimal skis
Although the World Cup racers have a large number of skis in their bags, Grønås is quick to point out that there it is not the number of skis in your quiver that matters. At the end of the day, what really matters is that your skis have the right properties for you: that they fit your technique, skill level and the conditions and terrain you will encounter.

“However, when that’s said, a lot of masters and citizen racers easily have four or five pairs of skis: a couple of pairs for hard wax conditions, a pair of zeros and a klister pair. And if you are aiming to win your age class, that’s not unreasonable given the time and effort you put into your training,” Grønås says.

“But there is no reason to get overwhelmed. It’s important to keep it in perspective,” he concludes.